A pregnant Rose Leslie gets cozy before new film ‘Death on the Nile’

There’s a change in Rose Leslie lately. Her husband’s noticed it: “He said, ‘Something’s different,’ ” the Scottish actress says. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m wearing foundation!’ ”

She’s due back on a BBC set in Glasgow shortly after our interview, and can’t wait to be working again. “After these seven months, the idea of putting on makeup felt very strange,” says the actress, on Zoom from her home in London. “I’m excited to tackle the wardrobe again.”

Leslie, best known for her fur-clad “Game of Thrones” character Ygritte, looks right at home in the warm, sumptuous knits of her Alexa shoot. In her personal style, she keeps it simple. “Not many patterns, kind of a tailored cut, flattering for the figure,” she says. “I like to give it an edge, with either a chunky boot or some earrings, but otherwise, it’s relatively minimalist.”

Her tailoring may have to be altered in the coming months, as Leslie, 33, recently went public with the news that she and her husband, Kit Harington, are having a baby. “I am thrilled to be expecting, and I can’t wait to meet the new member of our family!” she tells us.

But first, she’s enjoying a return to quasi-normalcy, shooting the six-part crime thriller “Vigil,” which paused production in March and resumed in September. Even though it means COVID-19 testing every three days and a marked lack of hugs, she’s grateful to be back.

“Stepping into the hair-and-makeup trailer, and seeing those wonderful ladies in visors and masks and aprons, these dear friends — it felt strange not to go in for a hug,” she says. “I’m a very tactile person with my friends, but the elbow bump is going to have to be enough for now.”

In “Vigil,” which involves the disappearance of a Scottish fishing trawler and a death on a submarine, Leslie plays a detective on her first murder investigation. “She’s finding her feet,” Leslie says, “but she’s gung-ho and very willing and determined, which is a fun character to play.”

“Very willing and determined” is a good nutshell for Leslie’s defining roles thus far. She played the maid Gwen Dawson on “Downton Abbey,” who risked the ire of her fellow servants to train to become a secretary, and more recently appeared on “The Good Fight” as young lawyer Maia Rindell, daughter of a disgraced Bernie Madoff-type figure. And, of course, there is her wildling character on “GoT,” the show where she met Harington, who played the heroic, slightly oblivious Jon Snow.

The two fell in love on-screen and then off; they married in June 2018, after six years together, and divide their time between London and a country house in East Anglia, England.

In their copious downtime this year, Leslie learned a thing or two about the perils of multitasking. Her husband, well known for his head of tumbling curls, recently handed Leslie the hair clippers and asked her to give him a trim. It did not go entirely smoothly.

“I was on FaceTime to a friend at the time,” Leslie says. “He was like, ‘Can you do the back, because I can’t see it with the mirror?’ And I was so engrossed with my girlfriend, we were having such a lovely time, and I was like, ‘Yeah yeah yeah, fine, whatever.’” Leslie’s right-handed, and “I had the phone in my right hand,” she says. “I took the shears in my left hand, and … I dug too deep. I dug too deep! It was rather hilarious, but also awful. Fortunately, he looks great with a semi-shaved head, so it was fine.”

She and Harington have always been publicly playful with one another. Leslie showed up at her husband’s “Saturday Night Live” appearance last year to tease him from the audience, while he once pranked her on April Fools’ Day with a severed head from the “Game of Thrones” prop closet — footage he merrily revealed on “The Jonathan Ross Show.” But these days, the duo has been, like most of us, looking around for more banal ways to amuse themselves.

They’ve cycled through many 2020 rites of passage: She’s taken up knitting again, and they’ve dug out their most complicated cookbooks (although the comfort-food staple of bangers and mash remains her favorite). They binge-watch shows — “Succession” is their current obsession — and even got a pandemic puppy: a tiny whippet.

“It was a wonderful thing,” she says. “If we hadn’t been forced to stay behind our front door, we couldn’t properly train her and make sure she didn’t poop all over the house.”

Leslie spent her early years growing up with a menagerie of animals at Wardhill Castle, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, which has been in her family for hundreds of years.

“I always just referred to my home as a big old house with no heating,” the actress says with a laugh. “I spent a very idyllic childhood, being able to climb trees and roll around in puddles of mud and immerse myself in the woodlands,” she recalls, sounding like her wildling character.

If you grow up in a drafty old European castle, is it a requirement that you become interested in the novels of Agatha Christie? “I am a murder-mystery person,” Leslie confirms. “The idea of being part of a whodunit fills me with joy, because it’s the type of book I love to immerse myself in.”

“Death on the Nile,” her upcoming movie (out Dec. 18), is director Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of the Christie novel. The 1978 incarnation included Bette Davis, Peter Ustinov, Mia Farrow, Maggie Smith and Angela Lansbury. The new version wrapped in December last year, and will feature another star-studded cast: Leslie, Gal Gadot, Annette Bening, Armie Hammer, Sophie Okonedo, and Branagh himself, reprising his role as detective Hercule Poirot (whom he portrayed in 2017’s “Murder on the Orient Express”). Leslie returns to maid territory as Louise, who’s in the employ of Gadot’s socialite Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle.

“She knows she’s indispensable, because she keeps the secrets of her employer,” Leslie explains of her character. “But Louise enjoys being swept up in the glamour of the festivities, and she gets reprimanded for that behavior, and her joy gets snatched away in a very cruel way. I feel that would chip away at any soul.”

Recently, her co-star Hammer’s disappointment that “Death on the Nile” did not actually film on the Nile, or anywhere in Egypt, made the news. “I think all of us had a flutter of hope that we might be transported to Egypt,” says Leslie. “But we filmed in the Cotswolds, and there was, in fact, sunshine, which will hopefully fool audiences.”

It may be a bullet dodged for the red-haired actress. She and Harington went on a short escape to Greece when the UK lifted travel restrictions earlier this year, and “the Grecian sunshine was glorious,” she says. “But I am very, very fair. I wear sunscreen, which is like chalk, and my husband tans. So when we go on holidays, he’s there like a lizard, and I’m under an umbrella.”

With over a year of distance from the “GoT” finale, Leslie is happy to see fan frenzy waning a bit. “I feel very fortunate to have been a part of that show — it has elevated my acting career — and yet I feel lucky to be able to live a straightforward life. I’m quite a private person.”

One aftereffect that’s stuck, though, is a taste for the fantasy genre. George R.R. Martin’s long-anticipated “The Winds of Winter” doesn’t seem likely to publish anytime soon, but Leslie’s been delving into another acclaimed series.

“I have very much enjoyed ‘The Kingkiller Chronicle’ by Patrick Rothfuss,” she says. “I’ve read the first two books. It’s so well written.”

If it’s turned into a series, will she lobby to be a part of it? “I don’t know if there’s a part for me,” she says. “What’s frustrating is that our leading man is ginger. If only he was a ginger leading lady!”

Stylist: Anahita Moussavian; Stylist on set: Philip Li; Hair: Patrick Wilson at the Wall Group; Makeup: Justine Jenkins using Ere Perez

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